Wow, what a topic…
You know, I’ve been swooning ever since I got this topic…. J
This post is on biking. Or more specifically, a post to define the Indian biker….
Biking for me has been a lot of things that I can’t really put into words. So for a change, I thought I’d keep my incredibly narcissistic side aside and have this post dedicated to some incredible people I know, or specifically some incredible bikers I know. So here’s the drill - I asked some of the avid bikers I know what biking means to them and their answers helped me understand not only what biking means to them but surprisingly also uncovered what it means to me. So here are the people and here are the answers…..
So let me start with my main man, Danny. We’ve been friends since school and has been one of my bestest buddies ever. Of course I hated him in school for the fact that he was a professional model, had a six pack way before Salman and all the women used to completely ignore me when he was around. J Danny is the first biker I know. And in my sleepy town of Kottayam, Danny was a celebrity biker - he had a black bullet with a distinct orange tool box and the sight of him beefed up in a red T shirt and dark shades was machismo at its best. Of course, now he’s a successful businessman and just before he graduated to a Honda City recently, he bought back the biking to his life with a brand new Classic 500. And he tells me that biking to him is mainly about “floating” – Dan’s logic is that in a car, one’s movement is very two dimensional – mostly straight, left or right- but on a bike, you swing and hence that feeling that one is actually flying. Add to that, the wind on the face and the obvious freedom, it’s what he loves to do to de-stress - the joy of flying, the swing, the more dimensions, the wind in the face and the freedom
For the feeling of flying, the freedom and for the wind on his face….
that is why he rides.
“There are bikes, super bikes and heavy bikes… and then there is the bullet”, says Nikhil, one of the coolest bikers I know. We worked together earlier and this guy used to diligently wait for the weekends so that he could take his bike out to explore Bangalore. He told me that in his hometown, Delhi, everybody either has a bullet or aspires for one. He’s the guy who showed me how to start the bullet without getting hurt (he says there is an art in the start!) and in the short time he was in Bangalore, he’s seen more of it on his bullet than I have. One thing he hates about Bangalore roads are the many, many speed breakers that upsets a biker’s ride. Nikhil gave me an interesting twist to biking – he told me he likes biking for the “emptiness” it brings him - every Sunday, when he takes his bullet out for a ride, for the first hour or so, his mind plays out niggling issues that need to be sorted out at office or home but after another hour, his mind just tunes out and goes blank – then it’s only him, his bike and the elements. And that experience reinvigorates him for the next 6 days. Also he likes the fact that at some of the many inhabitable places he’s been to, he’s only had to believe in himself and in God’s good humor and an incident like having a flat tire at such inhospitable places makes him a stronger man, having survived the experience.
For the emptiness, the elements and inner strength….
that is why he rides.
Meet Imran Whoz Sane – a rockstar of a dude who had a wicked, wicked dream for a long, long time. We worked in the same company till he relocated to Malaysia sometime back. And this dude went ahead and done what many of us still dream about – he went ahead and bought himself an awesome 650cc of pure brute force caged inside an elegant and stylish form also known to the world, as the Kawasaki Ninja ER-6F. Besides looking oh-so-cool and turning heads at traffic signals and when he’s burning rubber, he tells me that the reason for his ride is that he like the rush of adrenalin it gives him when he goes full throttle. He adds that he’s a recent biker and the reason he wouldn’t have bought such heavy machinery in India is mainly cos of the lack of roads and infrastructure to support his new found love.
For the adrenalin rush, the image and the dream….
that is why he rides.
When I first heard of women riders, it took me a while to believe that women could actually maneuver and handle these mean, huge bikes; but one image that got stuck in my mind was when I first saw this lady gracefully chugging along on a bullet, in all elegance and poise, evidently having tamed the bullet. And it’s said that the tribe of women riders is increasing by the day. I’m told that the reason why they ride is pretty much the same as the guys. A friend of mine who doesn’t bike (yet!) told me that she associates biking to be a masculine obsession and true to the popular maxim “why should guys have all the fun??”, she’d love to experience that testosterone rush and own a Harley one day. Another person I know is Kavita pictured above. Don’t get fooled by her looks here, but she’s a speed demon in disguise. J When she’s not negotiating narrow roads on holiday in Siliguri, or experiencing the exhilaration of getting scared like hell on the steep slopes, Kavita is usually thrilled when she finds her need for speed on wheels, both two and four.
For the joy, the josh and the joie de vivre with speed..
that is why she rides.
OK, this one totally surprised me at first but once I did a little bit of research, it was pretty obvious why this is also a reason why many people ride - quite a few guys I know got their rides purely because they couldn’t get enough of the way it sounds!!! Only few machines have the fanatic following and the ecosystem of emotions built around it like a Harley does; and one reason why Harley’s legion of fans go for it is for its sound - in fact, Harley even tried to patent its distinct and unique sound (hear the Harley’s heartbeat here). Back home, the sound is not the only reason why my friend Eashwar chose his Enfield Bullet - Eashwar is a bullet know-it-all who’s done over two lakh kilometers on his “bucket of bolts” and he believes that a bike has to be so comfortable that after riding it at 100 for a 100, one should be able to repeat the same feat the very next day comfortably – and he’s found that trait in his bullet, which he opines is the perfect blend of power, stability, reliability and also has a large supporting community of equally passionate bikers.
For the power, the brotherhood and for the roar....
that is why he rides.
So who is the Indian biker? Well, based on the small group that I’ve talked with, I’m led to believe that the Indian biker gets into biking initially for the flexibility, independence and convenience that a bike offers. But after a certain time period (this group thinks its 4 years), each biker would have discovered his riding style and his reason for biking – it could be the need for speed, to lose to the cruise or for the glide of the ride – and after this, they graduate to their next machine. For one group, this is a four wheeler and for the other, it’s two wheels. The first group usually however has a part of their selves still thrilled by the bike that they would invariably also buy a bike as a personal toy a lil later in life; and this time, the bike would be a strong expression of their individual reason to ride. And for the other group, they graduate directly to heavier and bigger two wheeled machines of their dreams. This is the Indian biker.
And they have a strong connect and attachment with their bikes, in fact some people I talked with, affectionately referred to their wheels as "sweetheart" or "my babe" and the like. Another person likened his ride to his first love, his midwife (cos "she helped him get re-born" J), his mistress and his original love all rolled into one. Another person quoted something pretty awesome which I used as the title of this post...
for the freedom, the independence, the elements, the adrenalin rush, the joy, the power, the journey....
That is why we ride.
This is an entry for the Castrol Power1 Blogging contest.